A method of conducting therapeutic sessions with MDMA

J Psychoactive Drugs. Oct-Dec 1998;30(4):371-9. doi: 10.1080/02791072.1998.10399713.


A method for preparing clients and conducting therapeutic sessions with 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is described, with emphasis on the need for careful attention to the mental set of therapists and clients and the setting of the session. The therapists' belief was that MDMA inhibited the fear response to a perceived emotional threat, allowing the client to place the emotional sequelae of past experiences into a more realistic perspective in their current emotional lives and relationships. Clients were carefully screened and prepared until they had a clear purpose for the session, including a willingness to experience and to learn from anything that might happen. Sympathomimetic effects of MDMA determined the medical contraindications, and clients with histories of serious functional psychiatric impairments were excluded. Total doses of 75-150 mg, plus 50 mg if requested later, were administered, followed by clients lying down and listening to music with eyeshades and headphones during the peak MDMA effect. Screening and follow-up questionnaires were utilized. Two case histories are presented: a man achieving relief of pain from multiple myeloma, and a woman finding relief from problems as the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Use of consciousness-altering drugs in other contexts is discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Neoplasms / complications
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Hallucinogens / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multiple Myeloma / complications
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine / therapeutic use*
  • Pain, Intractable / psychology
  • Pain, Intractable / therapy
  • Psychotherapy / methods*


  • Hallucinogens
  • N-Methyl-3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine